Honda Motor (HMC) says that today it will launch the first vehicle with Level 3 semi-autonomous tech, which simply means it can drive itself under specific circumstances.
This feature is a part of Honda’s new Legend, an upscale sedan being sold in Japan. Regulators there have given approval to the system for sale. Honda wants to offer only 100 of these cars for now, which will cost 111 million yen, around $102,000.
This is a test, but it is an important one that the industry will be watching. Automakers have so far hesitated to go beyond Level 2 systems because of worries over driver confusion and legal liability.
A Level 2 system, like General Motors’ Super Cruise or Tesla’s Autopilot, can give drivers hands-free driving under certain circumstances, like when on a highway or freeway. But the driver must stay focused and ready to take over on a moment’s notice.
The difference between these systems and the new Level 3 Honda is offering is a matter of degree. Honda’s system gives the driver more time to take over, meaning the driver need not be as alert.
How will it work on the road? We will soon find out.